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Change Your Mind, Change Your Game [Day 6 – 30 Days to Changing Your Game]

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Today is Day 6 of 30 Days to Changing Your Game.  Yesterday Colin Lewis helped us get a handle on our financial goal.  Today, my friend Kimberlee Morrison turns our thoughts inward as we deal with the inevitable fear and frustration that will pop up as we change our game. And she won’t tell you this but she’s a channel manager for Entrepreneur Magazine. She’s know A LOT about this topic!

Change Your Mind, Change Your Game

by Kimberlee Morrison (@KymleeIsAwesome)

For me, changing the game has always been about introspection, particularly when I find myself in an unhappy place. It’s all too easy to blame external factors for why you’re unhappy with your job or your social life. It’s easy to assume you’re the best and that the only reason the other person got ahead is because they brown-nosed their way to the top. Whatever the cause of your frustration, it’s always easier to point the finger elsewhere instead of looking at where you could have done something differently.

This may sound like I’m encouraging people to focus on shortcomings and wallow in the muck of failure. Quite the contrary. There’s no point in making a mistake if you can’t learn from that mistake. And if you’re in competition, you look at the winners for ways to tweak your own performance.

For example, when I played water polo, there were certain teams who seemed to always win. Those are the teams you want to go after; the ones who always win. They were the biggest and played the dirtiest. How easy it would have been to assume those teams were all brawn and no brain but my coach new that intimidation was weakness one particular team exploited on a regular basis. We watched a video of a match where our team seemed to cower and panic while the other team was never rattled. But after that very game, we complained that the other team was so aggressive. We had the chops, our coach said. All we needed to do is play to our strengths instead of getting lured into the other team’s game.

The same principal can be carried over into…well most aspects of life. You never want to let your frustration or fear get the best of you. And if your competitors smell fear, they’re bound to exploit that fear. Better to focus on what you’re good at. Better to play the game on your own terms. Playing the game any other way will lead to frustration, unhappiness and ultimately, it’ll lead to you being off your game and not at your best.

There are a few strategies for playing the game on your own terms:

Avoid Rants
According to the experts at the MITA Brain Based Center [http://www.mitaleadership.com/bus2_index.htm], ranting is literally bad [http://www.brainbasedbusiness.com/2007/03/5_things_you_may_not_know_abou.html] for the health and bad for productivity. Ranting is generally a result of frustration, but ranting rarely leads to solutions; instead ranting begets more ranting. The more you rant, the more you wire your brain to rant more. Ranting also increases cortisol (a brain chemical that shuts down learning while increasing anxiety levels) and decreases serotonin (a brain chemical that sustains healthy immune systems).

For a good six months I ranted about everything at work that I disagreed with or made me unhappy. I started dreading work. I was always expecting some new stressor and ranting about what I saw as poor management. I even became passively defiant. Eventually my response to any new request was irritation and to try to get out of the addition to my work load. Eventually this job I had love so much in the beginning became the least enjoyable part of my day, and I had to do it eight hours a day for five days a week. Before I knew it, I was starting to hate my job even though I was doing what I’d always wanted to do.

Sure I could have continued ranting against management and blaming others for my unhappiness, but that was only making things worse. It was time for some introspection. Where was I putting my energy? I was putting my energy into this toxic ranting and it was bleeding into every aspect of my work life and even affecting co-workers. When I decided to begin curbing my rants (by first recognizing when I was getting started on one), the heaviness of discontent began to lift and I was able to enjoy my work again, consequently becoming more happy and productive.

Don’t ask ‘why’ ask ‘why not’
This is often the difference between a perspective blurred by limitation and an unobstructed view of possibilities. Most often the anchor of the “why” argument is that there’s no point in doing more than necessary. It’s an argument seated in mediocrity from the beginning and the expectation that obstacles will inhibit progress.

On the flip side, when someone asks “why not” they’re expressing hope and almost daring someone to give them a reason something can’t or shouldn’t be done. For pessimists, why not is one of the most irritating phrases one can utter. However, “why not” creates a positive frame for great achievement.

Fake it ‘till you make it
Ok, this is something I learned in church while growing up. Sometimes you’re struggling with seeing that field of possibilities and you feel a little weak in the faith department. Thinking positive and believing in your vision before it has actualized can be the hardest part of changing the game. Let’s be real, even the most optimistic of optimists have days when dark clouds loom overhead and Murphy’s law seems to be getting the best of them.

This is where faking it comes in handy. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and all that can and is going wrong, take a deep breath and affirm your goal positively. So what the plan isn’t working out exactly as you laid it out; truth is they rarely do. Rework your plan, keep your head up and make positive affirmations even when the walls seem to be crumbling. Your reaction to a stressor is often what determines whether or not it becomes a crisis. Resiliency is also what separates long-term from short-term success. The most successful people assess problems and go straight to looking for a solution. They put little energy into worrying about the problem itself. Instead, the focus is on how the problem can be solved and how the same problem can be averted in the future.

If you’re not sure, its fine to acknowledge that uncertainty, but don’t get stuck there. Focus on what you can do to accomplish your goals as opposed to the obstacles in the way. If you’re afraid, begin acting on your plan despite your fear. As time goes on, you’ll gain confidence. And if you’re having trouble just believing, keep your focus on hope. In the end, it’s really just a battle in your mind and your emotions will follow your focus.

These tips may seem lofty and abstract. Ultimately, it’s about winning the battle in your mind, reprogramming yourself to see the silver lining instead of clouds of doom. For those with a natural tendency toward skepticism, the idea of the power of positive thought being a game changer can be a tough pill to swallow. It takes will power to resist old negative patterns; you first have to become aware of the patterns and how they affect you. In the end, a conscious choice to become an optimist takes far less energy than being stressed and also makes for a happier healthier you.

What strategies do you use for playing the game on your own terms?

Bio:
Kimberlee Morrison is an author, journalist, poet, culture critic, social media enthusiast and general information junkie. She believes strongly in citizen journalism and the power journalists have over society; for better or for worse. If journalism is to bolster democracy, then new media is going to take us back to our journalistic roots. You will find her blog here: http://kymleeisawesome.com/

For me, changing the game has always been about introspection, particularly when I find myself in an unhappy place.

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